Roll among the vines
Margot McGovern discovers three fantastic rides in beautiful wine regions.
A leisurely bike ride in a lovely setting is an ideal way to share time with that special someone or catch up with friends you haven’t seen for a while. Add some great food, spectacular vineyard vistas and a sampling of some of Australia’s best wine and beer and you’re set for a perfect weekend getaway. South Australia’s McLaren Vale and Western Australia’s Margaret River wine regions are both heavily invested in cycle tourism and have established scenic rail trails to and around the vines, while Victoria’s Yarra Valley has a proposed trail in the works and a great on-road route showcasing a selection of the region’s finest spoils.
Margaret River, Western Australia
Margaret River is just a relaxed morning’s ride from some of Western Australia’s best wineries.
Leaving from Margaret River, join the Busselton to Flinders Rail Trail at Gloucester Park. You can head directly along the trail towards Cowaramup and the wineries around Miamup Road and Tom Cullity Drive, but if you’re in the mood for a slightly longer ride, head south-east at Craters Road and take a trundle down the Ten Mile Brook Trail.
The trail runs 7.5km each way, with the turnaround point at the Rusden picnic site, which has toilet and barbeque facilities and is an ideal spot for a picnic brunch or morning tea. This section of the Flinders to Busselton Rail Trail crosses creeks and streams through native bush and lush farmland, making for a relaxing rural ride.
At the end of the trail, take a break in Cowaramup and stock up on locally made chocolate, cheese, nougat and other gourmet goodies before continuing along Miamup Road to Vasse Felix winery (www.vassefelix.com.au) for a leisurely lunch and tasting overlooking the vines.
Distance: Margaret River to Vasse Felix 22.6km
Surface: Compacted earth, coarse gravel and sealed roads
Scenery: Bush, farmland and vineyards
Coast to Vines Rail Trail, South Australia
As well as producing world-famous shiraz, the McLaren Vale wine region is also within an easy ride of Adelaide’s southern suburbs, and the Coast to Vines Rail Trail is your path to a perfect weekend getaway.
To get the most out of the ride and the region, take the trail from Marino Rocks to Willunga, spend a day or two exploring the wineries and then ride the return track back to Marino.
As well as producing world-famous shiraz, the McLaren Vale wine region is also within an easy ride of Adelaide’s southern suburbs.
The trailhead begins at the Marino Rocks Train station and climbs for the first few kilometres to Hallet Cove, with stunning coastal views to distract from the incline. The rest of the ride is reasonably flat, passing beneath shady avenues of trees and over open grassland. Coming out of Seaford Rise, hills become visible in the distance and the first vineyards appear before you cross beneath Victor Harbor Road and emerge in deep wine country.
There are several wineries on the trail in McLaren Vale, including the bike-friendly Oxenberry Farm Cellar Door and Café (www.oxenberry.com) where you can stop for lunch before riding the final section through the vineyards to Willunga. Alternatively, take a few short detours to nearby wineries and begin sampling some of the fruits of the region on the way.
Distance: 39km one way
Surface: Shared path
Scenery: Coastal views, open country, vineyards and some residential
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Yarra Valley is a diverse and exciting wine region, with everything from world-renowned wineries to micro-breweries, all within a day’s ride of each other.
Take the train from Melbourne to Lilydale. There is a rail trail proposed to run from Lilydale to Yarra Glen that will provide a flatter, off-road option for the first part of the ride, but for now you’ll need to take the road. Victoria Road has rolling hills, narrow shoulders and a moderate amount of traffic. However, the views of cows grazing in lush pastures, vineyards and mountains rising blue and stately in the background make it a pleasant ride nonetheless.
The Yarra Valley is a diverse and exciting region, with everything from world-renowned wineries to micro-breweries, all within a day’s ride of each other.
Once you turn on to St Huberts Road, the landscape flattens out and there’s very little traffic as you approach the first stop of the day. Take a break, enjoy the spectacular view and sample some world-class bubbly at Domaine Chandon (chandon.com.au). Just up the road is Yarra Yering (yarrayering.com), a boutique winery rich in history and offering a selection of tastings that’s not to be missed. By the time you reach Medhurst Wines (medhurstwines.com.au) it’s time to refuel with a rustic picnic on the lawns in the company of the winery dogs.
From Medhurst it’s a rolling ride on quiet roads to Coldstream Brewery (coldstream-brewery.com), an ideal place to unwind with a late afternoon brew before heading back to the city. It’s only a short ride back to Lilydale, but you’ll need your wits about you as the Maroondah Highway is always busy.
Distance: 39.5km loop
Surface: Sealed roads
Difficulty: Easy-moderate with rolling hills most of the way
Scenery: Vineyards, farmland and distant hills
Web link: www.visityarravalley.com.au
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